Annie Haslam's concert on Friday, 26 September at Club Bené in Sayreville, NJ was polished to perfection and very well received to say the least. Annie and her band have a warm fan base in this area covering at least three states, but the prize for longest distance traveled went to a couple from Brazil recognized by Annie from the stage.
The Club Bené venue was the fifth in this August September, October tour with one stop remaining in Bath, ME. I've been privileged to have attended all so far except The Towne Crier in Pawling, NY and each one has been outstanding in a different way. I would characterize this concert as a performance of smooth perfection built on confidence. Annie looks and sounds like the angels she often sings about. She is trimmer and blonder than when we saw her on tour in January. Her voice never ceases to amaze me with its power and clarity and judging by the cheers from her audience they feel the same way. We all showed delight as she announced each new song and the set list went as follows:
We listened intently as Annie gave us the news that she just returned from a recording session in England with Michael Dunford on his new musical production of Scheherazade. She will be featured on a promotional CD release of it to be announced on the internet [click here for more info about this CD and the musical] and through fan society newsletters. Annie was asked by Michael to appear in the stage production in December but instead chose to keep her concert schedule her in the US at that time; something her fans here eagerly anticipate.
As usual, Annie charmed her audience with her repartée between songs. She also surprised us by adding a "meow" at the end of "What He Seeks." Her fans gave several standing ovations and cheered and clapped in unison demanding the encore of "Ashes" which showcased not only Annie's vocal pyrotechnics, but also the solo artistry of Rave Tesar on piano, Joe Goldberger on drums, and David Biglin on keyboard, guitar and bass. Truly the performance of "Ashes" is so full and varied that it eclipses entire concerts by many other musicians. Annie and her band turned in a performance that reveals not only their skills but their love and respect for the music itself and the faithful fans who flock to enjoy the experience.